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Half Dome Death: CA Woman Falls 600 Feet

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 03, 2011 6:44 AM

A California woman slipped when hiking, falling from Half Dome to her death. This most recent tragic incident seems to be a continuation of a deadly season at Yosemite, with deaths at a recent high.

Haley LaFlamme, 26, fell to her death at the national park after slipping on wet granite. She fell 600 feet, and was declared dead on the scene.

The park website warns visitors not to try to climb up the cables, which were installed to help climbers ascend the dome, if the rock is wet, according to the park website. Specifically, the park points out that most accidents on the dome occur under wet conditions.

LaFlamme is the 14th person to die in the famed park this year, reports the Los Angeles Times. This number is quite high for the year, as Yosemite would usually see 12-15 deaths by the end of the year.

Perhaps part of the reason why there have been a high number of deaths this year is the increasing number of visitors. Last year, 4 million tourists visited the park, which was the most since 1996, and park officials are estimating that this year's visitor totals will be comparable in number, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Is the park service liable? Many of the hikers and tourists who have died in the park have died because of natural conditions, such as the slick granite or the currents of a waterfall. In a recent case, three tourists died after being swept under the currents of a waterfall after they ignored warning signs and climbed over guardrail, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The park service likely has the responsibility or duty to warn visitors of certain dangers that they know of. And, they might have fulfilled that obligation; after all they have posted warning signs and distributed brochures informing visitors of the potential hazards of the park.

LaFlamme is not the first Half Dome death in the park's history. The most recent death occurred when Majoj Kumar fell in 2009, according to the Los Angeles Times. And, with the recent spate of Yosemite deaths, it seems only clear that visitors should be extra careful in the park. While beautiful, nature can be deadly, and even seasoned hikers can slip up and make a fatal error.

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